In a competitive job market with dozens of highly qualified candidates competing for the same position, standing out can help any applicant get ahead. If you can take the spotlight and throw every other resume into the shade, you’re halfway home…or at least halfway to receiving an interview invitation.
But remember: Not all attention is positive attention. Here are five types of resumes that will make hiring managers take a second look—for the wrong reasons.
The Colorful Circus Train
This resume looks like it was created by a pre-school classroom full of finger-painting baby monkeys. It includes no less than five different font styles in six different sizes, some of which are too small to read. And it uses a mismatched, jarring rainbow of colors that don’t actually exist in nature. It’s disorganized, its logic is hard to follow, and it’s difficult to tell if some of its subheadings refer to company names, project names, or position titles.
Remember: A resume’s visual impact should be subtle and understated. Substance and content should take center stage.
The Grandstanding Blowhard
This resume loudly proclaims that it’s better than all the others, but it provides little evidence to back this up. Empty, grandiose self-descriptors and overblown pronouncements will get attention, but they won’t land an interview.
Before you make demands, set the terms of the relationship, or list and describe everything you want, be ready to explain what you have to offer. And before you claim to be the “best” at something, be ready to explain why. What projects have you completed? How have you been recognized in your field and how have these recognitions translated into material growth and success for your employers?
Remember: Employers are interested in what you have to contribute, not what you’re looking to gain. Resumes are designed for self-promotion, but they also give you a chance to demonstrate that you’re a team player.
The Sketch Artist
The resume has something to hide, even if it’s not quite clear what it’s hiding. No matter what elements of your background you’re trying to spin, gloss over, or push under the rug, employers have seen this kind of effort—and these kinds of tactics—before. Attempts to throw smoke are more obvious than candidates realize, so stay safe and aboveboard…with every detail. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve done. Don’t hide your dates of employment, don’t “adjust” your job titles, and don’t exaggerate your accomplishments.
Remember: You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Don’t undermine your credentials or accomplishments by spinning or stretching the truth.
The Enthusiastic Fluffball
This resume (and attached cover letter) are loaded with exclamation points and bursting with excitement. This candidate is expressing an outpouring of passion to compensate for what might be a lack of real credentials.
Remember: While employers tend to love passion and enthusiasm, they also like professional composure. State your truth quietly and clearly.
The Perfect Candidate…Who Won’t Take the Job
This resume is perfect in almost every way. The candidate seems qualified, smart, experienced, and competent. She’s fantastic. But, unfortunately, a little too fantastic. Employers are gathering around to gaze in awe at her resume, but they don’t realistically believe she’ll accept the modest salary or humble position this company has to offer. They love what they see, and they’re very impressed. But they don’t even call her in for an interview because they’re already convinced she’ll turn down a potential offer.
Remember: Not every rejection is personal. Sometimes a resume offers everything employers need, but they still have their own valid reasons for saying no. Take this one as a compliment and move on.